A submissive

Dominant vs Master

Dominatrix vs Mistress

Those just entering the BDSM world will find the abundant usage of both of these words by members of the online community. This is primarily due to the rapid growth of access and the restrained attainability of quality texts to correctly interpret what these words mean within the community itself. Up to a few years ago the BDSM world was a tightly closed and almost secret society. Membership in this society was kept totally private and hidden with significant effort. Entre into the community was by referral and accompaniment ONLY. Protocols or rules of conduct were strict and strongly enforced, not from some control standpoint but because those rules emerged from bitterly hard lessons in survival.

A Dominant is a person with a dominant aspect in their personality.

A Master is a Dominant with significant real life BDSM experience.
They are not the same. It can be fairly said that all Master/Mistress's are Dominant. It cannot be said that all Dominant's have earned the title of Master/Mistress. The Dominant person will range from lightly, moderately and heavily dominant. They may desire to engage in a relationship which is infrequent and strictly limited by rules, boundaries and limitations. These light Dominant's will generally have a very limited desire to have a significant D/s relationship, this is sometimes due to conflicting life events and other times due to being 'barely dominant'.

There is a second group of light Dominant's or persons with a desire to control without the adequate understanding or tools to do so. I sometimes call these person's low level Dominant's. Their range or sphere (their world) is small, they can be poorly educated, relatively low paying jobs, somewhat narrow minded and may be subject to 'dominant bursts', or short term barely or uncontrolled violent outbursts. These low level Dominants are OFTEN abusive and were generally bully's or victims of abuse as children. They may be full of justifications for their 'actions' often assigning 'blame' or directing by means of fear, intimidation or threat of pain. They are often without honor, courage and veracity as individual's and when encountered in the BDSM world should be avoided or not sought out to be in a relationship with.

The moderate Dominant is the most common Dominant and will characteristically be interested in a 'relationship', though often they may not desire a full time relationship when they are fairly new to the community. They tend to have a broader range and more committed style than the light Dominant and the submissive will find them to be more stable. They will tend to be decently educated, interested in their outer world, mid-range job. They may tend to control through a blending of thought and the accentuating of traditional type disciplines. They are most likely to have 'sides', wishing and desiring their submissive to 'share' in decision making choices.

The heavy Dominant can be distinguished primarily by a clear, strong and compelling desire to live in a 24/7 relationship with one submissive. This Dominant will generally have been in the community for a long time or be seasoned, will have explored the 'abundance' of many D/s events, meetings, scenes and partners. They can be more tolerant and more strict than any other Dominant. A high percentage of heavy Dominant's will have spent some portion of their BDSM life as a submissive, learning from the inside. These Dominant's often allow few limits and believe that their submissive must trust in them to direct them in a safe, sane manner. They are generally well rounded and quite stable. Holding to simple, firm rules with a strong desire to maintain the health and well-being of their chosen mate.

One of the most significant traits which identifies or distinguishes a member of this community is the basic 'desire to serve for the pleasure of another'. This aspect trait is shared by both Dominant and submissive though manifested in entirely different ways. When 'in scene' the Dominant is 'serving' the needs of the submissive by giving and/or directing that submissive in a manner which is pleasurable to the core being of the submissive. In those terms the Dominant is the giver, the submissive the receiver. In a good or well rounded relationship this flows back and forth between both Dominant and submissive. The submissive is 'giving' obedience and consent to the Dominant, the Dominant is 'giving' direction and control to the submissive.

Additionally you have those who go by the name of Top. This person is generally an individual who enjoys scening from the Top position. S/he may or may not have a strong dominant aspect. Many Top's will openly indicate that they do NOT consider themselves to be a Dominant, they generally have little desire to be in a controlling position of another person's life. Many see themselves in dual roles and may identify themselves as switches, or having the ability to switch from Top to bottom role. I also need to mention the Sadist here. A Sadist may or may NOT be a Dominant, in much the same way as a Top. Often a true Sadist will openly identify themselves as a Sadist. They scene because the inflicting of pain upon another being brings them pleasure. In many cases the Sadist has NO desire to live in a controlling position over another person. Also the true Sadist is VERY attuned to
'scene limits', they can and may be a stickler for very precise identification of what is permissible and what is not. In general terms they are NOT oriented toward 'serving the pleasure' of the person they scene with though often they are very skilled, very intelligent and very careful.

A Dominant may be sadistic and will OFTEN have a strong sadistic side which allows them the ability or range to interact with the submissive in an intense sensory stimulation way.

A multiple partner Dominant can be any of those above mentioned. The individual's stability can best be judged by the DURATION of those poly relationships. Also there are those that take on or desire to take on 'stables' of submissives. In MOST cases this is a fantasy wish fulfillment type of ego stroking. Functionally, the more people within a relationship the harder it is to manage. It is quite difficult to manage a single relationship well, every division of time, energy and focus reduces the overall quality to everyone.


The Master/Mistress is beyond the last level of the Dominant. They are generally well experienced, often having LIVED as a full time slave for up to several YEARS as part of their training. This title USED TO BE given within the local communities in a ceremonial way when the individual had EARNED this title by the estimation of a majority consensus agreement of the Dominant's within that local community. It was considered to be a HIGH HONOR and carried with it a measure of INSTANT respect by all those so encountering it. In addition there is a further title of Grand Master/Mistress. This title is awarded even MORE rarely and should you encounter any individual with this title, you should offer EXTREME RESPECT and understand that this title was awarded for demonstrable and long term consistent actions.

One final thing to really confuse you. There is a category that I call the Alpha Dominant. (aka High Level Dominant) (aka Natural Dominant). This individual appears to have been born Dominant. They often 'emerge' at a young age, (sometimes at puberty), they have natural skills, are highly imaginative and creative, flexible, energetic and intense. They have no need to 'prove' themselves to any other standards or measures. They may have NO abuse whatsoever in their background. They are generally highly motivated, precise, detail oriented, aggressive, charming and capable of literally anything.

The vast majority of Dominants 'emerge' in their mid-thirties. A full emergence often takes as long as seven years as they work through and integrate all the conflicting information inside of themselves (this is identical for the submissives also - though many female sub's emerge in their late 20's). During this 'emergence' process they can be somewhat unstable, moving from person to person and sometimes from orientation to orientation as they seek to understand what is happening to them and who they really are.

A few other misconceptions to address. The term 'Lady' is often seen. Lady can be an indicator of both Dominant or submissive. Many Alpha or number one submissives are called 'Ladies'. Usage of this term as it applies to a Dominant Female is somewhat unclear though it 'may' indicate that the Dominant is or has been a switch. I should note that MANY of the Dominant's are former submissives who carry forth their education and training quite proudly. The term Lord is also commonly seen here and is often used as in 'Lord and Master'. Being called a 'Lord' does NOT mean that the individual is a Master but appears to be a term of endearment given by the submissive TO that Dominant. Sir and Ma'am also fall into the category of endearment honorific title terms. Many Dominant's have NO desire to assume the identity of a Master and require their submissives to call them Sir to be used as the reverent title of choice. This also holds true for Ma'am though I should note here that 'Madame' can be interpreted as a SLUR due to it's association with prostitution.

Also, a submissive is NOT ALLOWED to address an individual as Master or Mistress unless they are within the collaring process with that Dominant. When wearing the 'collar of consideration' the sub/slave moves within the relationship circle of that Dominant's realm and should then address that Dominant in the manner so indicated by that Dominant's rank or desire. This continues through the 'training collar' stage and becomes permanent in the 'slave collar' stage. Proper protocol and etiquette should be taught to the new submissive/slave to prevent accidental embarrassment of the Dominant in situations where the submissive/slave may encounter other Dominant's, Alpha subs and submissive/slaves.
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